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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 17:13 GMT
New Year's greetings boost mobile firm
MMO2 logo
A surge in mobile phone-sent New Year's greetings has helped operator MMO2 shoot past targets for text messaging, or SMS, services.

On New Year's Day, Britons sent 27.7 million text messages through MMO2 phones - equivalent to 320 a second.

In December, MMO2 users sent 500 million text messages, "the largest volume of person-to-person messages handled by a UK operator in a single month", the operator said.

The growth saw MMO2 pass a target of gaining 16% of customer revenues from text messaging services, or SMS.

And chief executive Peter Erskine said the firm, spun off from British Telecom, continued to see "significant revenue potential in SMS".

Boom and bust

The figures will raise hopes that mobile operators will be able to meet some of the targets promised in the late 1990s, when the telecoms boom placed huge expectations on the potential of new technologies.

The bursting of the tech bubble, delay in roll-out of new generation services, and disappointing demand for some products, has sent telecoms firms scurrying to shore up income sources.

MMO2 added that it had doubled the number of customers for GPRS (general packet radio services), which are faster than those offered for conventional mobile phones, if slower than those promised through the long-heralded third generation, or 3G, handsets.

The company also claimed 100,000 customers for its mobile games feed, and for MMS messaging services, which improve on SMS by allowing pictures or films to be sent through mobile phones.

Revenue target

The figures came as MMO2 announced that overall customer numbers had risen by 4.3% in the last three months of 2002, to 19.1 million.

The firm was "particularly encouraged" by its performance in the UK, where customer numbers rose by 500,000 over the quarter, Mr Erskine said.

While the all-important ARPU (average revenue per user) figure had risen only marginally in Germany, the firm's buoyant UK operations would see the company "achieve or exceed" revenue targets.

MMO2 is aiming for an ARPU figure of 4-8% for the year to the end of March.

MMO2 shares stood 0.25p lower at 48.5p in morning trade in London on Tuesday.

See also:

19 Nov 02 | Business
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13 Feb 02 | Business
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